Tag: communication

DESPITE MANY CHANGES PR REMAINS A VALUABLE TOOL FOR BUSINESS

Over the past few months and throughout the worst of the Coronavirus Pandemic businesses large and small have been faced with numerous changes and we have supported new and existing clients in several different ways.

More so than ever before, competition between businesses is high and the fight for survival is real. I believe that more companies will recognise the value of PR and understand how beneficial it can be as we move through unchartered territory. Having a good communications strategy to support your future might be the key to succeeding in an ever-changing climate.

Coming out of lockdown, one thing is clear, and that is the need for effective engagement with audiences to secure sales.

Reach a wider audience

As businesses have negotiated the changes caused by the pandemic, the need to appeal to a wider and increasingly varied target audience has grown. Consumer attitudes and trends have changed and using PR helps businesses to market themselves across multiple channels.

The need to reach a new audience or demographic coming out of lockdown is where PR could really help a business, and even extend the opportunities it has.

Social Media as an important tool

I am sure we are all aware by now that our internet and social media usage has skyrocketed during lockdown. While this may reduce a little as we move back to ‘normal’, social media should not be underestimated as a marketing tool. In fact, the benefits of using social media for business are ever increasing.

Social media management and content creation are often a key component of our work with clients. PR professionals have the expertise to support growth in this key area and create compelling content that attracts attention and engagement.

While the need for traditional media remains, it is worth being aware of other ways to communicate with customers and how PR professionals can support in this area.

Reactive to opportunities

PR practitioners have contacts across multiple media and are always on the look out for new opportunities that might be beneficial for clients.

Working with an agency gives businesses access to opportunities they might never have considered. Reactive opportunities can be anything from getting a quote from an expert to offing a product as a prize for a competition on the radio. Both get the name of the business or product out there effectively and raise its profile.

The more reactive opportunities that a business can benefit from, the more chance there is of relationships being built with the media. This means that journalists will come to the brand in the future.

Helpful in advertising activities

While it was concluded that PR is almost 90 per cent more effective than advertising it can be very useful when used in conjunction with other tactics during a wider campaign.

While many still believe advertising is enough on its own, the trust built by PR is invaluable to businesses of all sizes. And, it goes without saying, consumers prioritise trust and brand experience over anything else.

While PR professionals will have to make changes in line with the ‘new normal’, the need for brands to invest in communications will be as great as ever.

If you would like to know more about Open Comms and the services we offer, why not give us a call on 01924 862477 or contact us here.

WHY PR BELONGS AROUND THE BOARDROOM TABLE

PR deserves a place around the boardroom table

When I first started my career, it was almost unheard of that PR would be represented around the boardroom table. Over the years I’m pleased that in the most part this has been addressed. In this blog, we explore why PR belongs around the boardroom table.

Reputation is the most important asset a company has at its disposal. It can be used to the advantage of an organisation or ignored to the detriment of that brand. The choice lies firmly with the business.

PR is the specialism that ties firmly into the management of that asset.

Establish

When a company launches, it is now common practice for a business to invest in PR. It may be for a one-off project or for a more sustained period. The latter will always deliver stronger results, but it isn’t always possible for every organisation to recognise this from the outset.

The idea behind establishing a brand is to communicate with an audience that will become receptive to its message. How a company chooses to do this is up to them. The approach can be different every time, but the objective remains the same; to educate prospective customers about a product or service.

When we think about how important this one piece of work is, we start to appreciate why these decisions need to be made by senior managers. We are relying on a team of experts to communicate effectively with the chosen audience and in turn evoke a response.

Customers are essential for business. You wouldn’t leave that level of responsibility with just anyone. There is a huge emphasis on trust. As such, the person leading this team needs a seat around the boardroom table.

Maintain

Once a brand has been established, it needs to be maintained. We cannot expect that communicating once with an audience will ever be good enough. In a world where there are marketing messages surrounding us all, we need to gain cut through.

Consistency is fundamental at this stage of the process. Having a clear plan that will give a brand the opportunity to share updates, news and further launches will keep an audience interested. As well as attracting new prospective customers, it’s also about building affinity and resonance with those that have purchased.

The journey with PR never ends. It may take slightly different directions however the idea is to take your customers with you. Brands that create real loyalty are those that do this the best. They are also the ones that recognise the value of PR and its role around the boardroom table.

Build

Brand building comes in many forms. It could be about retaining a fresh image and using current language in all communications. In this example, we are referring to PR and the use of a sustainable plan to build a brand over time.

Having a schedule of activity will allow any company to test an idea, measure the results and review. The beauty of PR is that it evolves over time. Any plan can change at the drop of a hat, so flexibility and being agile is key.

The hardest brands to work with are those that don’t really understand PR or what it is used for. It’s those that consider it to be a ‘nice to have’. Anything that is a nice to have is never going to be a priority and PR should be.

For businesses of all sizes, to manage your communications should be an objective. As well as using media relations and content to educate an audience, PR can also be used during a crisis. This is when companies see the immediate value. It shouldn’t come to that.

Establishing, maintaining and building a reputation 

Establishing, maintaining and building a reputation are all skills that will allow a business to become a success it deserves to be. Having the person or team responsible for that around the boardroom table makes perfect sense.

PR should be considered as important as finance. A company would never function without some knowledge of where the budgets are going. The same can be said for communications. If you are unaware of who is saying what about your business and to whom, perhaps you only have yourself to blame.

Give PR the place it deserves in your business and see how it benefits your bottom line.

WHAT IS A CONTENT STRATEGY?

Creating a content strategy

As with many phrases that are industry specific, people often ask us what is a content strategy? The simple answer is that it is a plan which supports what information you will share, where and with whom.

There is a misconception that marketing and communication for a business is easy. You simply talk to the right people, at the right time and in the right place. Ok. In principle that is correct. In practice it takes a great deal more thought, time and effort than that.

Audience mapping

The first challenge is to define your audience groups. This can be more difficult than it initially appears. The reality being that once you are honest about who your customers are, the rest will follow.

Knowing who is purchasing your product or service is key. This doesn’t mean that this will be your audience forever. It is possible to have a captive audience, preferred target and aspirational community.

This is where PR can be really beneficial.

You see, nothing is fixed. The idea that you put together a plan and that it never changes would be absurd to anyone working in the specialism. Much of what we do is about test and measure. Even when you get the results you are looking for the strategy will need tweaking to make sure the plan evolves alongside the business.

Getting the messaging right

The next step in preparing a content strategy is getting the message right. Consistency is really important if what you want your communications to resonate with your audience. Keep it simple. Don’t overcomplicate what you are trying to say to sound intelligent.

This is one of the most common pitfalls with companies that want to engage with their prospects. The belief is that using big words and jargon-laden phrases will impress. The truth is that people don’t have the time to digest what you are trying to say.

Getting straight to the point and showcasing expertise in the examples you share will work far better than writing like you have swallowed a thesaurus.

Choosing the medium

We have more opportunity to communicate than ever before. As well as printed marketing materials and company websites, we also have newspapers, broadcast (TV and radio) and social media channels.

The trick is to identify what mediums your audience(s) will be most likely to access on a regular basis.

Putting your message in the right place is what makes PR so powerful. It allows you to speak directly to those that you hope will buy your product.

Going back to mapping, think very carefully about where to put your energies. Businesses can find PR overwhelming because there is so much to do. Breaking this down into bite-sized chunks and being honest about where your customers access information will make life simpler.

Timings  

Timing is critical when it comes to getting the best results from PR. If you have a product that you sell directly to consumers, then you may want to consider how soon you can make announcements about new products.

With some of the clients we work with, we are planning more than six months in advance. It seems inconceivable but in February we are planning for Halloween and Christmas. This is because consumer publications work so far in advance.

With business to business, it’s essential that you keep abreast of the wider media agenda. Even local events that are taking place could command space within a newspaper that may otherwise have been allocated to your story.

Think about what is happening, key dates throughout the year and the local and wider media agenda. Identify the times that would give you the best opportunities to share your message with the right people.

Don’t choose those that will be most popular. All you will do is make your job harder than it needs to be. Think about your angle, the news you want to share and then draft the content for that specific medium with your audience in mind.

Pulling the plan together

Once you have covered the above, it’s time to pull it all together. This is where you start to see a content strategy unfold.

There is no need to purchase expensive software or to find impressive charts. Use an excel document with relevant columns; audience, message, medium and timings throughout the year.

Once you have populated your spreadsheet, you can identify any gaps. This will give you the chance to think carefully about what you want to do in this space. It may be that greater thought needs to be given to this or that it is a longer-term objective.

The devil is in the detail

Content strategies will evolve quickly. You will see what your audience is most receptive to and you can do more of that. Equally, you will see what they choose to ignore, and the time spent on this can be redirected accordingly.

Make sure to review your content strategy regularly, then you know you have a document you can work from that will deliver results.

Alternatively, call an agency and get the professional help and support that you need. PR may not be a dark art, but it is an essential and business critical tool for those that want to succeed and expand.

MAKING EXCITING PLANS THAT GIVE US ALL SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO

Over the past few months, I’m sure I’m not alone in having ALL my plans cancelled. Holiday’s, birthday parties, festivals, all cancelled as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. This has left me feeling low and lacking motivation. Usually, I like to have things booked in advance and love to see everything written down in my diary; I simply like to have things to look forward to and see my month planned out on paper.

Having something to look forward to, be it a coffee with a friend, a holiday or simply starting a new series on Netflix can brighten up the gloomiest of days.

Planning in PR

Planning ahead is also important at work, particularly in a PR role when being organised is crucial. We often plan campaigns months in advance, not only does this help us manage client accounts effectively, it helps us to see if we have the capacity to take on new projects. While this process can feel tedious at the time there is nothing more rewarding than seeing a campaign executed effortlessly after months of organisation.

Planning for a sense of purpose

I like to plan ahead as I find it makes me work much more efficiently and I’m more purposeful with my actions if I know exactly what I’m hoping to achieve. Having a solid plan in place provides a timeline of where I should be and when. It allows me to tick off things I have completed and provides a sense of fulfilment.

Plans Change

When you begin to execute a plan, it can quickly change and develop into something very different. When this happens, which it will, all the hard work shouldn’t be seen as a waste, its part of the process and overcoming obstacles helps us learn so we can plan better in the future.

Planning for an Objective

Without a solid plan in place the objective of a campaign or project can become skewed. Having a carefully considered schedule to refer back to provides a constant reminder of the end goal and prevents the objective getting lost in the development stage. In PR, the importance of meeting the objective is of great significance and why a detailed client brief is so important. Read more on this here.

For me, having plans in place in all aspects of my life helps provide a sense of purpose and gives me something to look forward to. I feel more satisfied and purposeful in my actions and find my mental health suffers when nothing is in my diary.

The benefits of planning are not to be underestimated!

For further information on how we can help you make plans for your business, please contact Open Communications on tel. 01924 862477.

RECOGNISING THE IMPORTANCE OF FACE TO FACE COMMUNICATION

One lesson I’ve learnt from lockdown is the importance of face to face communication. Not only has this been something I’ve missed from my personal life, it’s something I’ve missed from a professional perspective too.

With ever increasing opportunities for virtual engagement it’s easy to see how we could move away from face to face meetings for good. As we move towards our new normal, it’s got me thinking if there really is a need to travel long distances for meetings and spend every day in the office.

While many have suggested the traditional office formalities are near extinct, I’ve begun to appreciate the need for personal interactions and believe they are invaluable in the PR world.

Colleague relationships

In the first few weeks of lockdown, I found myself missing the office banter and the endless rounds of tea delivered to my desk. Now, I find myself longing for a team meeting where we can get together in person and discuss our actions without a sound delay or speaking over others.

In PR our working relationships are important and there is nothing like getting together to brainstorm ideas for a campaign. We work best when we can bounce off each other and share our creativity. It also means we can suggest the wildest stunts and feed our imaginations.

We can see the excitement in our colleagues faces and make our intentions are clear. People have to be in a room together to really get the best ideas flowing. This is something that simply can’t be recreated on Microsoft Teams. It’s getting us through lockdown, but I miss the sense of community the weekly office meeting brings.

Client Relationships

At Open Comms we have continued to maintain regular contact with our clients and have been very much business as usual throughout the pandemic, but meeting with our clients face to face has been missed.

We believe taking the time to get to know our clients means we understand their values and allows us to develop stronger business relationships and deliver the desired results. It isn’t always about work; it is about chatting and learning more about the personalities behind the brands we work for.

Seeing someone in person allows you to get to know them quicker and better. It is a way to find out about shared interests and to become more than just a third-party supplier. We always say that we are an extension of our clients’ teams and that is very true. It remains the case in the virtual world, but it isn’t the same.

Emotion

When communicating virtually, the ability to read body language and facial expressions are lost and any emotion is removed. Without these cues we raise the risk of misinterpreting the tone of an email or call.

While other businesses may thrive from a move to virtual communication, I think the value of face to face communication in the PR sector will last for many more years to come.

And as we finally start to see the lockdown restrictions eased, I absolutely can’t wait to reconnect with family, friends, colleagues and clients alike.

If you would like to know more about Open Comms and the services we offer, why not give us a call on 01924 862477 or contact us here.

LEAVING LOCKDOWN A BETTER PR PROFESSIONAL

As we are continuing to adapt to new ways of living and working amid the Coronavirus crisis, dare I say that there finally appears to be a slight glimmer of light at the end of a turbulent and challenging tunnel.

Normal has and is continuing to change. Our lives will be impacted by this pandemic for many months to come. And, despite the overwhelming feeling that we are navigating through these unprecedented times together, I cannot help but think that our own experiences will be vastly different.

We are at the brink of a nationwide recession, unemployment rates are rising and most tragically, people are still losing their lives and loved ones to Covid-19. I’m sure I can speak for the majority of people when I say there have been some extremely dark days during this lockdown period.

Yet, despite being drenched in this daily wave of negativity, I must look within my own situation and be at least thankful that many key elements of my daily life have remained intact, especially when it comes to work.

Positivity in the workplace

Like many sectors across the UK, the PR industry hasn’t eluded the damaging impact of the Coronavirus. Here at Open Comms, however, we are fortunate enough that the entire team have managed to keep a sense of business as usual throughout this global crisis.

This transition has certainly not been without its challenges. Similar to many companies across the country, we have all been working remotely. Our processes have had to be modified but we have largely ensured that the services we deliver have remained uncompromised.

This is why I feel fortunate, but it’s not the only reason. When I look back at my own lockdown experience, I recognise that through necessity I have gained valuable new skills, adopted more efficient working practices and my PR skillset is continuously improving.

Learning to adapt

It was inevitable that as the marketplace was impacted by this widespread disruption. Many businesses would have to, rather quickly, change their strategies going forward and for the foreseeable future. This was no different with our clients, and we had to therefore taken both a proactive and a reactive approach.

This was most evident on our clients’ social media channels. To reflect the current climate, we had to completely revise the messaging and tone of a program of activity we had previously collated. In order to avoid any inactivity on these platforms, the new content had to be turned around quickly and then shared across multiple platforms immediately.

Another client reacted to the Covid-19 crisis by amending a critical support service, so it is available to those who need it most at this time. Prior to the launch of this new scheme we took a proactive approach by specifically targeting media titles that have already shown an appetite for sharing this content around the subject.

Upon contacting members of the media, we also repurposed the press release to highlight each specific region in order to secure as much coverage as possible. Following this update, the story was covered throughout the UK, including every region this service is available in.

True value of regular communications

It is at times of crisis that positive communications play such a vital role. At times, PR may not be seen as a ‘must have’ by many, but I believe it is now evident just how valuable it can be. The success of a company can often be attributed to its reputation, and nobody understands how better to grow this then communication experts.

Aside from the successes we have achieved on behalf of our clients in lockdown, one of the biggest triumphs I’ve seen is how the Open Comms team has regularly and robustly continued to communicate, not just with clients, but also with each other. Shifting to remote working can be an arduous adjustment and can put daily correspondence at risk.

Whether it’s transferring our usual team meetings to morning video conferences, scheduling in private calls to further discuss work projects or simply putting on the kettle and having that much needed catch-up, tasks such as these give me that sense of normality, we all long for.

If you would like to know more about Open Comms and the services we offer, why not give us a call on 01924 862477 or contact us here.

HOW SOCIAL MEDIA CAN BE USED FOR ALL THE RIGHT REASONS

Whether we like it or not, social media is already a big part of our lives both personal and in a business capacity. And, if you’re anything like me, you spend longer than you care to admit scrolling through the latest content on Instagram.

But, as something that’s often spoken of as a bad apple, social media can be incredibly useful. Here are some of the reasons why companies should take advantage of these platforms and increase their business presence online.

Social media is a platform that can be used to reach thousands of people

With regular posts that use hashtags and competitions that offer relevant prizes, you can engage directly with your audience.

Taking this approach, you will soon create a community of like-minded people. This then means that the posts you share have the potential to reach thousands of prospective customers.

Consistency is key here and frequent posts are a sure way to increase following over time. It is important to remember that this won’t happen overnight. However, with perseverance will come results.

Create a Brand Persona

If you review the social feeds of a few of your favourite brands, you can bet they are carefully curated to appeal to a specific demographic. They will also portray that business in a certain light by using a particular tone of voice.

Using social media gives you the opportunity to show off the personality behind your brand. This can be done through organic posts, adverts, endorsed content, images of your product and also when replying to consumers questions.

Easy way to communicate

Being active on social media gives potential customers the opportunity to reach out and ask questions they might not want to approach through email or on the phone.

These platforms are the perfect medium for asking these questions and are often used as a more informal way of communicating with a business.

Keep your eye on other Brands

Being active on social media allows you to keep a watchful eye on other brands. This may even be competitors.

It is common for brands to follow competitors and is a great research tool. It may even provide inspiration or lessons of how to avoid a crisis. Learning from others is fine however copying posts or plagiarising content isn’t. It can be a fine line so is one to remain cautious of.

Crisis Management

Often, by keeping a close watch on social activity and comments, you can stop a crisis in its tracks. Taking hold before it has had chance to have an impact on your business could be invaluable.

Unfortunately, social media is often the first-place consumers go to broadcast a complaint or opinion. In some instances, this will show your brand in a negative light.

Responding to such comments gives you the opportunity to deal with any problems quickly and efficiently. It also shows other followers you take negative feedback seriously and are keen to resolve any issues.

Managing complaints professionally and with the right tone and approach could turn a negative into a positive. It is just a case of knowing how to communicate with customers online.

Using PR to enhance online presence

It may sound simple but growing a social media presence can take serious perseverance and trial and error.

As a PR agency we have seen the demand for social media management grow over the years. Access to digital communications, and the expectation from customers that brands have an online profile, has made this a key part of our clients’ briefs.

To find out how we can support as you increase your social media following and online profile in the right way, why not give us a call on 01924 862477 or contact us here.

SHARE YOUR STORY: BUILD YOUR BRAND

PR is about telling stories and building brands

Brand loyalty is not what it used to be. People don’t typically have the same affinity with a company they once did. Perhaps because we now purchase for convenience rather than experience. We access our shopping online or from conglomerates. We have absolutely no idea who served us from one day to the next. That is assuming you didn’t use self checkout.

Times have changed and so have expectations. Consumers want quick, easy and accessible. They want price checks and free returns policies. It’s no longer about relationship building or shared values, it’s about simplicity and functionality.

But what if things were to change?

What’s your story?

Storytelling is an underestimated skill.

Sharing content that is useful, insightful and meaningful has changed the landscape for brands, giving them an opportunity to create a point of difference. In a bid to stand out from the crowd, manufacturers and retailers need to let people know why they should choose one product over another.

This isn’t just about why a business started in the first place, it goes beyond that. In order to give a true impression of a company and what it stands for, an organisation needs to decide what themes will resonate with its audience(s).

It may be the values of a business, the sustainable approach it takes, its corporate social responsibility or the skill, time, effort and experience that goes into making the final product. It may be tone of voice and an honesty that is not typical within a given market or all of the above.

Whatever it happens to be, making a plan for posting content and giving consumers the opportunity to learn more about a company will equip them with the information they need to make more informed choices.

Content that matters

There is a belief that posting a blog every now and then will do the trick and sharing copy across social channels will have people flicking on the kettle and grabbing a cup of tea ready to sit down for a good read.

The truth is that people are just as busy as you are.

It is therefore necessary for brands to consider this and to condense copy so that it can be shared in a way that will appeal to the widest overall audience. It is fine to draft a blog, but break the copy up and then provide a revised version which will share the main points across social channels. If people want to read more they can. Working in this way gives them the choice.

Organisations should map out what the audience needs, wants and what they will enjoy. It may be industry specific topics, thought leadership articles, advice and guidance or something more light-hearted, such as a weekly update from the workforce.

Identifying what is most likely to work will save time and also keep people coming back for more. There is no point in sharing the same content over and over. This is a chance to mix things up and to give a brief glimpse behind closed doors.

Content that changes behaviours

Marketing and PR can be a reoccurring point on agendas which never gets the attention it deserves.

What business owners may fail to realise is that well written copy that is shared regularly can change behaviours. That means that people could switch from purchasing one brand to another based on access to information and strategic storytelling.

Some brands do this very well and use the opportunity to share updates as a way of reiterating the importance of every purchaser to them. Not only does this start to build a community of like minded people, it also gives those involved the confidence they have made the right decision.

When you think about it, would you rather purchase from a faceless, transactional business that will seemingly never give you a second thought or from a brand with personality that thanks you for your custom and directs you to useful content that you can access at your leisure.

Forcing the point

It is absolutely imperative that whatever the size of the business, those responsible for drafting copy understand the difference between selling and sharing. There is a fine line between commercial marketing and editorial PR, which can seem like a mountain to climb when you are faced with a blank sheet and a blog post to draft.

When curating content, it is a good to set out a plan. What is the purpose of the copy, what is the point and why will people read and share it? Without the answers to each of these questions, you may find you are wasting your time.

Forcing a point may come across as a sales pitch, which can do more damage than good. The purpose is rather to educate, inform and give people the detail and background they need to make an informed choice about your product and business.

That is why establishing a tone of voice will give you an edge and will make drafting copy far simpler. It will mean that you are able to inject personality and to build this over time. It doesn’t have to remain exactly the same, it can evolve and those that do become loyal follows will become a part of that journey.

Starting small, thinking big

Drafting content and sharing stories should be a part of any businesses planning and strategy if they want to build a strong and resilient brand.

Rather than make this ‘another thing to do’, the best way to implement change is to start small and think big. One suggestion would be to draft a blog a month, which is supported by social media updates across the most appropriate channels to redirect the audience to that post.

There can then be plans to increase this as the audience increases and customers become more accustomed to the sharing of regular content. Setting clear measures of success should be all the encouragement a business needs to continue. After all, if the right approach is taken, the results will follow.

AVOIDING LONG-TERM DAMAGE DURING A CRISIS

Avoiding long-term damage during a crisis

It’s fair to say that for most of us the novelty of working from home has worn off. There are serious decisions to be made that will impact on the lives of those around us. Uncertainty is causing anxiety and sleepless nights are becoming the norm. That is why we all need to focus on avoiding long-term damage during a crisis.

Business owners could be forgiven for finding these times the most stressful of their careers. Although most companies are facing the same challenges, the difference is how they are handled.

Stop, think, act

The best organisations are those that call upon the varied skills and quirks of colleagues. This means there are a range of personalities within a business to contend with. While during normal times this doesn’t cause too much of a problem, when times are tough these differences will be magnified.

Encouraging everyone within the team to stop, think and then act is just one approach that can dilute potential fallout. The last thing any company needs is for someone to make a rash decision that will have long-term implications.

Calling upon those with the most relevant expertise to lead is likely to deliver a more positive outcome. Carrying on with business as usual simply won’t work.

Communicating clearly

It is important that any company recognises the value in communicating clearly with its audiences. Not only does this gives customers, suppliers and staff the confidence they need, but it also reflects positively on the brand.

Taking the time to think carefully about what is being said and to whom is a good starting point. It is then about delivering these messages consistently and across the relevant channels.

As these are unprecedented times, audiences don’t expect that companies have all the answers. They do however want honesty and transparency. Authenticity is a word that is overused in PR but brands that can communicate in this way will almost certainly be most resilient.

Finding the silver lining

As contracts are cancelled, budgets are cut and staff are furloughed there seems to be no silver lining to this dark cloud.

During a crisis it is often best to say as little as possible and to stick to the facts, however there has never been a situation like this. Most businesses are facing the same challenges at the same time.

Rather than focusing entirely on the negative, use this as an opportunity. Share the values of a business and show what organisations are doing to support others. CSR (corporate social responsibility) is very much front of mind at present, so ensuring that this is communicated is essential.

It may be that employees are standing outside each Thursday and clapping at 8pm. A company could have turned its signage blue in support of the NHS, carers and frontline workers. People may be putting together care packages or supporting neighbours. Whatever a business is doing, it may be of benefit to let others know.

Using social media for the right reasons

In recent years, social media has commonly featured in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. It may be trolling, shaming or shared content that was intended to be private. Whatever the situation, social media channels have had their fair share of negative publicity.

That was, until now.

It’s been really enlightening to see social media channels including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn used for the right reasons. With light-hearted videos shared by companies and posts offering support, it has been a welcome relief.

Companies can use these examples as best practice and look at ways that they could do the same. As long as these posts are done for the right reasons, they will add personality to a brand and engage with audiences when it matters most.

Calling upon a network

When organisations are faced with a crisis it is often exclusive. This means that they are left to handle the approach, process and consequences alone.

In this instance, everyone is in the same boat. This therefore gives businesses the chance to call upon their networks for help and support. There is no shame in asking for advice and the same can be said for offering it.

Having a company can be isolating and lonely. At times like this it is essential that we all come together and do our best for the benefit of the wider business community. We can then do our best to avoid long-term damage during a crisis.

A focus on the future

While times are tough, we all need to remain focused on the future. There is light at the end of the tunnel, we just need to get there. It is going to take resilience, solidarity, effort, positivity and mindfulness.

These are all strengths we need to call upon and we will.

In the meantime, we need to communicate consistently, remember our values and try our hardest. Before long, we will get to a point where we can celebrate all that we have achieved when faced with unprecedented adversity.

Summary

Finding ways to be more progressive and to put in place an approach that works best for a business can be a challenge. We would urge any company of any size to consider the following:

  • Stop, think and act
  • Communicate clearly
  • Try to find a silver lining
  • Use social media for the right reasons
  • Call upon your network
  • Focus on the future

We hope that this will provide a starting point and a check list for organisations to work from. No company wants this, however having plans in place can support the present while also pathing the way for a brighter future. Hopefully then we can all work towards avoiding long-term damage during a crisis. For access to information and support about your PR, marketing content and social media please call a member of the team.

LOVING LINKEDIN

Lindsey Davies LinkedIn

I have to admit I’m loving LinkedIn. I’ve had a bit of crush on the platform for some time now. I like the fact that it is a social channel that has a definitive audience with a clear purpose.

There have been some fall outs over the years, as people have posted personal updates and others have made it their mission to ‘police’ the professional platform. However, I still feel it is a positive space to connect with others.

It is now very much a ‘go to’ for recruiters and individuals to showcase their talents, achievements and expertise.

Leaving the trolls behind

The conversations on LinkedIn focus on finding new contacts and sharing work-based content with a network that you have pre-approved. In order to share with someone, you first must make them a connection. This limits the amount of spam and unsolicited messages you receive.

As well as ensuring the information you access is interesting and relevant, this approach also leaves the trolls at the door. Twitter has become a breeding ground for bad behaviour, which requires governance and endless monitoring. In contrast, LinkedIn is able to build its credibility as a platform of choice for business.

Simple and effective

One of the first things I do each morning is scan through my LinkedIn feed. There is always an abundance of content and it varies depending on who has posted. Given the industry I work in, there is no consistency about who I follow; if I find a person or brand interesting then I will follow or connect.

It’s not unusual for me to wake up to someone posting an amazing view from a run or a report that looks at category insight about a given market. Both give me a reason to read, consider and reflect.

Posting to LinkedIn is simple and accessing a profile from the app has improved over the years. Reiterating it as a tool of choice for companies, at most events there is an option to scan a name badge and connect with someone through a QR code.

Not only does this reiterate the importance of LinkedIn for individuals and organisations but it also showcases how easy it is to use.

Posts and articles

What I like most about LinkedIn is the articles. As someone that writes for a living this will come as no surprise. What appeals to me most is that I can share my thoughts and opinions while also receiving clear analytics.

Unlike some social media channels, LinkedIn has the credibility that comes from relying on people to input their own professional information. This leads to fewer dormant or ‘fake’ accounts and more people that genuinely want to connect and converse.

Knowing those that I am connected with means that when someone leaves a comment or likes my article I will respond. This then leads to genuine and meaningful discussion. There is no harm in having a point of view and I find LinkedIn a more balanced place to do this.

I try to share an article at least once a month and have mixed them up a bit recently. Some focus on business and others are more personal. I don’t feel there is any harm in this as the objective is the same; people get to learn more about me and the way that I work.

Making the most of company pages

As an agency we manage company pages for our clients and provide advice and guidance on personal profiles. For me, once your profile is updated, it’s all about posting regular updates and spending five to ten minutes liking other information you have found useful.

I have met lots of people that have explained how they ‘don’t know how to do LinkedIn’ but the truth is that you don’t have to. The platform does much of it for you and will guide you through the steps to becoming an ‘All Star’.

You can then take your time working out the rest and can pay to become a premium member if you choose.

As well as updating your status, it is important to remember your company page. This is a reflection of your business to the outside world and gives employees a chance to share their thoughts and feelings about an organisation.

With this comes an authenticity that is rarely found elsewhere. Although company pages can be monitored and posts can be removed, they are often a true indication of the culture at a company. This is reflective of employees and what they share.

It is also a fantastic tool for building an employer brand and encouraging the best talent to your organisation. After all, if you employees are sharing the positives about your business, you don’t have to.

Grouping together

You can also join groups on LinkedIn, comment on articles and share links to external web pages that could add some value for those that are following you.

Again, the beauty about LinkedIn for me is that it is simple, effective and professional.

As someone that isn’t looking for a change of career or a new job, some people may ask why I bother with the platform. The truth is I know that many of my contacts visit the site and access the content that I share. As such, like any social channel, it is a valuable way for me to share news from the business.

Engaging with groups isn’t something I do as often as I should. I am a member of some groups but prefer to use them to read articles or links that are shared as opposed to creating relationships that are exclusively online.

One group I have been a member of for years is the Yorkshire Mafia. I joined because I thought it sounded interesting and slightly controversial. More importantly, the philosophy of the group that we are ‘stronger together’ also stood out for me.

With 22,000 pre-approved members it has a strong following and has been commended as one of the most productive groups on LinkedIn. I would recommend that anyone who just wants to join a positive and informative community of people takes the time to join.

Making the time

As with everything, updating LinkedIn takes time and any post that you share will be potentially available to world. So, while it may be easy to update your status, the same rules apply as to any channel.

My recommendation would be to set aside five or ten minutes a day and to review the content on your feed before liking, sharing and then updating your own status.

It doesn’t have to take hours and shouldn’t become a chore. If you set out with the mindset that it is part of your business processes, and a way to access information you may otherwise never have come across, then you lead with the benefits.

Looking to the future

I’m not sure what the future holds for LinkedIn. It is certainly a recruiters’ dream, and I can see why. Some of the updates I have had access to from the company, such as insights, have been developed with this audience in mind but there will be others in the pipeline.

Given I started this by saying I’m loving LinkedIn, I urge people to use the space to listen, learn and share. Given the updates that have been made to the functionality over the last year, I would expect further exciting features and updates are yet to come.

Only time will tell, but I believe LinkedIn has a great opportunity to take ownership and become the social channel for business. Whether a competitor comes along is to be debated, but it will take something special to catch my eye.